DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Incoming Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade received resounding applause from the business community after his emphatic declaration against corruption during a business forum on Tuesday, June 21.
“The expectations are so high that we, in government, should not be corrupt. Our expectations are as high that you, the business community, should not try to corrupt us,” he said in front of hundreds of businessmen.
Tugade said the practice between government officials and businessmen accepting favors from one another should be stopped.
“You want us not to be corrupt? Do not bribe and bind yourselves to us and gain our patronage,” he said.
One simple way this can be done is by putting an end to seemingly innocent practices like gift-giving and eating out together.
“It should never be the perception that a permit is given you simply because you come to my office bearing gifts, inviting me for lunch, inviting me for dinner,” he said.
Tugade explained that this was among his rules when he was head of the Clark Development Corporation.
“Wala hong regalo (No gifts) at any time of the day, any time of the day, any time of the month. Whether it is Christmas, Valentine’s, the birthday of my wife or the birthday of my girlfriend,” he said, eliciting chuckles from the audience.
He urged company executives to instead value public perception.
“If you want a permit from us, the perception must be such that you deserve that permit. The perception must be such that you got the permit because you are qualified, you are deserving,” he said.
“I ask you, business community, can we expect from you not to corrupt us?” he asked.
To this, members of the audience replied with a loud “Yes!”
Tugade’s words echo those of President-elect Rodrigo Duterte whose tirades against corruption and government ineptitude were fixtures in his campaign speeches.
The agency Tugade is set to head, the Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC), has been accused of corruption.
In December 2015, the Ombudsman filed criminal charges against former MRT3 general manager Al Vitangcol III over the awarding of an MRT3 interim maintenance contract without public bidding in 2012.
Many then had wondered why DOTC Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya was spared from graft charges.
Corruption is often cited as one of the reasons for the MRT3’s frequent breakdowns which had been the subject of a Senate investigation.
Duterte plans to ask Congress for emergency powers to enable the DOTC to quickly address the Metro Manila transportation crisis.
Will Tugade and other incoming Cabinet members live up to his strongly-worded declaration? – Rappler.com